The cash injection to the largest depot operated by Northern will significantly increase the maintenance capability of the depot – improving reliability and punctuality for customers.
Northern’s brand new diesel trains will be housed at Newton Heath and the team of 300 staff will also be responsible for routine servicing, maintenance, upkeep and repair, much of which is carried out at night to keep trains in passenger service during the day.
Ben Ackroyd, Northern’s Engineering Director said: “We want to make sure we can get as many trains as possible in service for customers and to do that we need state of the art engineering facilities and expert technicians and engineers.
“Train maintenance depots are the unseen critical element of the railway and we are delivering multi-million investment across the region to improve and expand these operations.
“Infrastructure development is not easy and takes a long time, but I am confident our improved depots will deliver more trains into service on a daily basis and help improve capacity for customers, as well as creating dozens of new jobs and career opportunities.”
Extensive groundworks were completed at Newton Heath prior to the construction of the new maintenance shed. More than 50,000 tonnes of soil were removed from the site and 521 steel posts were driven into the ground to support the structure. Since July 2019, the structure has been built and four maintenance bays, equipped with examination pits and heavy lifting equipment have been installed.
The expansion project at Newton Heath is due to be completed in June 2020 and the new shed will have sixteen 15 tonne power jacks fitted, which will be strong enough to lift a four-carriage, 96-metre-long train.
Previously these carriages would have to have been split to allow undercarriage components such as engines and wheel sets to be replaced. Having the ability to lift a whole train in one go will speed up renewals meaning trains can re-enter customer service sooner.
But it’s not just Manchester that is seeing depot improvements. Various depots across the Northern network are witnessing significant investment with improvements at Allerton (Liverpool), Ardwick, and Neville Hill (Leeds). Meanwhile Network Rail has constructed brand new train depots for Northern at Blackburn and Wigan Springs Branch.
These investments in rail infrastructure across the North West are a critical part in allowing Northern to increase its fleet size, offer more capacity to customers and provide an additional 2,000 services a week.